If anything defines the year in New York City transportation politics, it concerns misplaced and misguided priorities. We’ve seen politicians wring their hands over minor issues while ignoring systematic problems with transit policies. We’ve seen residents rise up against bus lanes and subway station entrances that would cause, at worse, minor inconveniences. We’ve seen ongoing construction at Fulton St. and a push to realize Moynihan Station, two billion-dollar projects that barely increase transit capacity. As money grows scarce, politicians prefer to invest in tangible monuments of their largesse rather than in behind-the-scenes increases to capacity.
Here, though, is a tale that takes the cake: James Vacca is about to take a hard line against a danger facing all New York pedestrians. He’s going after “rogue bicyclists.” Said the New York City Council Transportation Committee chairman, known for his windshield perspective, ““I get a lot of phone calls and a lot of concerns about rogue bicyclists. Too many bicyclists are going the wrong way on a one-way street. Too many of them are ignoring existing bicycle lanes and driving as they wish, and I think that we have to address that issue.”
Now, it’s true that a certain breed of bicyclists — mostly, I’ve found, delivery guys — are not respectful, but rogue bicyclists are hardly the problem Vacca makes it out to be. Rogue drivers, meanwhile, are responsible for over 75 deaths this year, but Vacca and his ilk could care less about making roads safer for all. Vacca, though, tries. “My priority is protection of the pedestrians, and my mantra is that the pedestrian is always right, even when the pedestrian is wrong. Everything I do is governed by that basic foundation.,” he said to The Post. When he starts working to curtail dangerous driving and giving pedestrians back more street space, I’ll believe it. In the meantime, we’re just seeing another example of misplaced and misguided priorities in a year full of them.